Remembering Jeremy Curtis

I never knew Jeremy Curtis, but after speaking with his mother and friends, I wish I had.
Sadly, Jeremy, a 1998 Oxford High School graduate, passed away Wednesday, May 7 at Royal Oak Beaumont Hospital, surrounded by family and friends, singing and praying. He was 23.
‘It was really horribly wrong that he should be taken, but it was very peaceful,? said his mother Robin Dafoe.
His former varsity football coach of three years, Oxford’s legendary Bud Rowley, described Jeremy as ‘tougher than an old boot.?
‘He’d take a hit and bounce right back,? Rowley said.
‘He was a fighter,? said friend and former Wildcat teammate Kenny Allen. ‘He did things 100 percent. He didn’t hold back.?
Unfortunately, that same fighting spirit that made Jeremy a good football player and strong person wasn’t enough to win his yearlong battle against the brain cancer that robbed him, and everyone around him, of his life.
Now, a mother has lost a ‘good son,? a brother has lost his main ‘role model? and ‘mentor,? a tight-knit group of classmates has lost a very dear, close friend, and a community that rallied to save a life has lost a piece of its heart and soul.
Friend Jeff Parish summed up what it was like to know Jeremy in one simple sentence, ‘He was absolutely the best person I’ve ever met in my life.?
‘He was loved and will be missed very much,? Parish added.
Jeremy’s ‘charming? personality and ‘accepting? attitude, drew people to him and blessed him with a ‘wide variety of friends,? Dafoe said.
‘Jeremy was able to see the person. It didn’t matter how they dressed, what music they listened to or what group they belonged to,? she said. ‘He could see that different people had different qualities and assets to contribute.?
Although he was popular and athletic, Jeremy didn’t see himself as superior to anyone.
‘He was always the one to rally the team for the kid who couldn’t bat. Whatever club he was in, he’d try to bring in a kid that no one else thought to have join,? Dafoe said. ‘He was very compassionate and non-judgemental. He knew that everybody had good in them.?
‘He never talked mean about anyone,? said friend Scott Dolsen.
‘I never heard a bad word about him,? Allen said. ‘He was always thinking of others.?
Allen said Jeremy ‘understood what sacrifice and selflessness meant.?
Although he was ‘very uncomfortable and in a lot of pain,? Jeremy went to a Detroit Lions game with his closest friends back in December because he ‘knew how much it meant? for them to all be together, Allen recalled.
But that was Jeremy, he was always there for his friends. ‘He was the only person who could talk some sense into me,? Parish said. ‘I tend to get a little crazy sometimes and Jeremy was like that little guy on my shoulder,? giving me advice.
‘He was an extremely kindhearted guy,? said friend Bo Linto. ‘He’d do anything for you. He was just a real stand-up guy. I love the guy tremendously.?
‘You could always rely on him,? Dolsen said. ‘He was just a nice person out to do nice things and make people happy.?
Fortunately, Jeremy’s friends have tons of stories about him and the fun they had together to comfort them. The spring break trips to Daytona Beach and the Bahamas, the hair bleaching that went very wrong, the long road trips and ‘the mailbox story? are memories of Jeremy that will live forever in their hearts and minds.
‘Jeremy stories always make me smile,? Allen said.
‘He made a lot of his friends smile,? Dolsen said.
Being a good friend came natural to Jeremy because of the love he had and gave to his family.
‘Wherever he was, he always called me,? Dafoe said. ‘He was such a good son.?
Jeremy made sure he kept in close contact with many of his family members and ‘never hesitated to say ‘I love you.??
However, he was particularly close to his brother, Justin, whom he loved very much.
Jeremy ‘took on the role of being man of the house? when he was only 5 years old after his father, Randy, passed away.
Dafoe said Jeremy helped raise his brother and felt responsible for him.
‘He was Justin’s role model. He was his mentor,? she said.
Dafoe said the two strongly influenced each other.
‘I think Jeremy learned a lot of his sensitivity and compassion from his younger brother,? she said. ‘So, I know they learned a lot from each other.?
Although Jeremy’s death occurred on Justin’s 21st birthday, the younger brother chose to view it in a positive light.
‘He felt that every year in celebrating his birthday, he could celebrate the fact that this was the day that Jeremy was set free and let go and at peace,? Dafoe said.
Jeremy’s death was not just a profound loss to his family and friends, it was also a loss to the community of Oxford, which rallied together to raise more than $20,000 to help pay his medical bills.
A Jan. 19 fund-raiser for Jeremy at Collier Lanes raised more than $16,000.
‘Everybody that was there (at the fund-raiser) knew Jeremy and had some story about him to share about him,? Dafoe said. ‘He touched so many lives.?
Dafoe said the support Jeremy and the family received from the community was ‘overwhelming.?
‘There are a lot of good, caring, decent people here. I just want to thank everyone who donated,? she said.
Jeremy is survived by his mother and stepfather Robin and Dean Dafoe; brother Justin Curtis; grandparents Harriet and Art Bishop of Mayville; and many aunts, uncles, cousins and dear friends.
On May 10, 2003, Jeremy’s funeral was held at Christ the King Church where Pastor Bob Holt officiated. Jeremy was buried at Lakeville Cemetery.
Bossardet Chapel Lynch and Sons Funeral Directors handled the arrangements.
Memorials to the family for medical and funeral expenses are appreciated. Any remaining money will be donated to the American Brain Tumor Foundation.